Today I would like to talk about three things: surrendering control, obedience, and submission. When we ignore God in the day to day matters of our lives, we are effectively saying to Him, “No, I can do this without Your input.” We don’t want to release full control of our lives to Him. We may hear what He wants us to do, but we don’t obey Him. Without obedience to God, we are ignoring His will. Without submitting to His will, we miss out on the blessings He had planned for us. These three things: surrendering control, obedience and submission, must be present in the life of every believer. Yet, for some reason, that word “submit” seems to rub people the wrong way.
While Mary had three months to come to terms with the news that she would bear the Messiah, Joseph did not have that luxury. Joseph was a righteous man who wanted to be obedient to the Law. Yet, at the same time, he wanted to spare Mary from the possibility of being stoned for adultery. He was having a hard time deciding between obeying God’s laws and following his heart. You can read about it in Matthew 1:18-25.
During biblical times, adultery was a dangerous thing. If found guilty, the woman (and man) could be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). This Law was a drastic measure on God’s part. It showed His unruly and disobedient children how much He hated sin. The practice of stoning anyone caught in adultery, therefore, was to act as a deterrent.
No father wants his child to suffer, and no father wants to see his child suffer because of wrong choices. God loves His children, but like any parent trying to teach his child right from wrong, He needed to put in place consequences for disobedience. I genuinely believe the punishment was severe in this way so that people wouldn’t risk their lives for the chance to sin. However, some children of Israel took the risk of indulging in sin, disregarding the consequences God had set in place.
Mary obediently submitted to the Father’s will, knowing it might lead to her stoning. She gave control of her life over to Him, trusting Him in all things. As Mary was obedient to God, Christian women, are called to be obedient to their husbands. But, it is sometimes easier to surrender to God than our husbands. For some of us, the word obey strikes a nerve. So much so, many young couples have asked to have it stricken from their wedding vows. When Paul commands wives to submit to their husbands, many modern women are shocked at the suggestion. But are we interpreting the words to obey and submit properly?
What is Control?
Control is to have power over or rule. God’s will is not considered.
What is Obedience?
Obedience is submission to authority. There is a fear of the consequences involved.
What is Submission?
Submission is obedience based on love and respect.
What Submission is Not
"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless"(Ephesians 5:21-27, NIV).
Did you notice the first command in this verse? People always leave out verse twenty-one and start right in on verse twenty-two, missing the entire context of this verse. Men and women are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. And women are to submit to their own husbands. Why? Because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. So husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. All this comes down to is respect for one another. If your husband is not respecting you, he does not love you as Christ commanded him to and if you are not respecting your husband, you do not love him as Christ commanded you to.
Women see that word submit and see red. Men see it and get haughty. But this example of submitting to one another is to prepare you for eternity with Christ. How we treat each other in our marriages is essential for our spiritual maturity!
The husband (as the head of the wife and the family) is charged with his wife’s spiritual growth and his children’s spiritual growth. Christ has made him head of the wife (and family) for a reason. The husband must love his wife as Christ loves the church. A man who mistreats his wife or “lords” his headship over her is not loving her properly. Jesus gave himself up for the church, and it is this kind of love He expects from husbands towards their wives. Why? For the same reason Jesus died for the church - to sanctify her.
Yes, women are smart enough to discern Scripture and grow spiritually on their own. Many single women can testify to that. But when you marry, Christ effectively says, “I am putting your husband in charge of your spiritual growth now. It is his responsibility to love you and care for you in my stead. So on the day when he stands before me, he may present you to me in all your glory. Holy and blameless. He is acting on my behalf. He must see you home to me. So respect him and submit to him because I have ordained it.”
Therefore, the husband who uses his authority in a threatening or oppressive manner will have much to answer for when he meets Christ face to face. NOTE: If you are a Christian woman in an abusive relationship, LEAVE! Your husband is defiantly disobeying the Lord, and you do not have to submit to any kind of emotional, verbal or physical abuse. Jesus died for his church, and he expects that same kind of selfless love from your husband. Also, when church leaders and elders tell a woman in an abusive relationship to stay, they are not only misinterpreting the Scriptures, but they are contributing to her husband's disobedience and defiance of God's will for him to love her like He does. NEVER listen to church leaders who tell you to stay in an abusive relationship. They are ignorant and wrong!
When we relinquish control of our lives to God, trust soon follows. If we obey God’s Word and submit to His will, then it should follow that we also submit to our husbands as they submit to the Lord.
In the end, it all comes down to love and respect. How much do you love and respect God, His Word, and your husband? If the husband is to lay down his life for his wife as Christ laid down his life for the church (his bride), then how could any wife not honour that kind of love? And men - if you do not love your wife in this way, then how do you expect her to respect you? It works both ways.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.